June 22

The Art of Saying “NO”


Face it, you are busy. You have a lot on your plate. Whether you work at home, work in an office, are a homemaker, a single mom, or are with a partner—you have a lot to do.

You are also a competent person. People ask you to do things all the time because they know you are competent. That’s why they asked you to do it in the first place.

Being chronically busy and being asked to take on new responsibilities can take a toll on our sanity and ramp up anxiety.

This, my friends, is where the art of saying “NO” comes into play. You must allow yourself to say no to certain tasks and obligations. You only have one life to live, it’s time to make it your own.

The Art of Saying “No”

Feeling confident in saying no to some obligations is an art. You have to decide when to say no and when to take on new responsibilities. If you have already mastered the art of saying no—congratulations! If you find yourself with too many obligations and not enough time to do them properly, you may need to practice the art of saying “no.”

When we take on too many responsibilities we aren’t able to do any of them to the best of our ability. Would you rather be a woman who does a few things really, really well or be a woman who does a lot of things so-so?

Why Do We Say “Yes” Too Often?

Sometimes we take on too many jobs or responsibilities because we are afraid to let people down.

In these situations, it is important to remember that just being asked to take on a new obligation is a positive. People don’t ask a lot from failures. People ask a lot from winners because winners are known to get stuff done. If someone is asking you to do something, it’s because they view you as a winner. They know you are competent and responsible, therefore they want you to help them in some way. Being conscious of this can make it easier to say NO to their request.

Don’t feel like a failure if you have to say no—it’s a win that someone asked you to do it in the first place!

Often we take on obligations because we think no one else is capable of doing the job. Pretend you’re tapped as the next president of the PTO. That’s a big honor; 50 to 100 other parents believe in you enough to nominate you for this huge post. You probably feel honored and excited. BUT, do you have time to properly do the job? Will taking on new responsibilities leave you feeling guilty about neglecting other areas in your life? Will you feel anxious and overwhelmed if the job requires more than you can give? If you answered yes to any of these questions, step aside and give someone else the opportunity to serve.

These are questions you need to ask yourself:

  • How will taking on this new obligation affect other areas in your life?
  • How will managing this task, especially if it is a difficult one, impact your well-being?
  • Should you spend time on areas that are really important to you instead of areas where you feel obligated to perform?

I recently read a book entitled, “Smarter, Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive,” by Charles Duhigg.

The author recounted a story about an accomplished neurosurgeon and professor whom he wanted to interview for an article on productivity. Now Duhigg is no slouch, he’s a journalist for the New York Times and has a Pulitzer Prize under his belt; someone most people would love have an interview with.

Surprisingly, the neurosurgeon declined the interview. Duhigg assumed the neurosurgeon was just too busy with his research.

However, Duhigg later found out that the neurosurgeon didn’t do the interview– not because of his academic work– but because he was taking his kids to a Justin Bieber concert and then going on a camping trip with his family!

Duhigg wasn’t bitter at the neurosurgeon for refusing his interview. Instead, he was impressed with the neurosurgeon’s ability to prioritize his life! Here was an accomplished neurosurgeon and professor who prioritized his family over his fame AND was one of the most productive and accomplished people in the United States. Being productive relies on being a whole and happy person.

This story resonated with me. Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean being productive. We have to prioritize what is important through the art of saying “no.” By doing so we will lessen guilty feelings and anxiety, and in turn, be more successful in the areas of our lives we want to nourish.

Have you said “no” lately? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Meet Elizabeth

Elizabeth blogs at www.crazybusyhappylife.com and helps busy women and warrior-moms be more productive, earn extra money, and learn to love the life their living. She’s a mom, a wife, an entrepreneur, a historian, and is super crazy busy – but happy.


Boundaries, Guest Post, Productivity

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